Thursday, September 29, 2011

Puffed Sleeves and Bosom Buddies

{by Rachel Coker}
When I was ten years old, the only thing I wanted out of life was to be Anne Shirley. She had it all. The romantic tale of an orphaned child sent to live with the most wonderful people on the most beautiful place on earth. She had flaming auburn hair (no, not red, never red!) and a spunky personality and…. (sigh) puffed sleeves. And, to top it all off, a lovely bosom buddy and that rogue Gilbert Blythe who, despite his initial teasing, turned out to be the best leading man literature has ever known. (I still don’t know any guys who compare!) This was my ideal, romanticized notion of how life should be. A world of close-knit friendships, dashing young men, and lots of frilly poetry and italics.

My life at ten years old was nothing like that. Anne was always stately and dignified, regardless of the circumstances. My perception of myself couldn’t be any different. I was awkwardly tall. At 5’4 and only ten years old, I towered over all of my peers, male or female. My hair was kinky and frizzy—not quite curly and no longer really straight. I had glasses, pudgy baby fat, and, pretty soon after that, braces.

To top things off, I had difficulty making friends. I didn’t really know many homeschoolers my age, and none of the girls at church liked me. The boys felt intimidated by my height, and often teased me for it. I remember my mom trying to pry my thoughts out of me, but feeling too embarrassed to share my problems with her. So I’d mumble that I was okay and let her comfort me, but secretly I’d feel nothing but despair and frustration towards God over my situation. Why didn’t He give me any friends? Why couldn’t I be magnetic and charming, like Anne Shirley? Was I some kind of freak? I felt like there was a small hole in my life. One that could only be filled by that wonderful, fulfilling kind of life. To have a bosom friend, and feel pretty and accepted and normal—that was all I wanted.

God must have heard my prayer because, shortly after that, He provided that bosom buddy. For several years, we did everything together. I shared all my secrets with her and made all kinds of plans for a bright future for the two of us and basically shut out my family and everyone else due to the importance of that person in my life. I felt strong and in control, for once. I did have a value! There was someone out there who actually cared about what I thought and felt and it made me want to care, too.

Looking back on that time in my life, I have a lot of mixed feelings now. I had a falling out with that “bosom buddy” about two years ago, and everything sort of crumpled for a while. For several years, that person had meant everything to me, and now she wasn’t there anymore. My family thought I was fine—even I thought I was fine—but the truth was: I felt that ache again. That emptiness. All those frustrated feelings I’d had so long ago came back. I watched my little sisters go out for play dates with their friends while I sat at home alone feeling anything but fulfilled by the life I was leading.

Finally, after months of letting all my emotions build up inside of me, I let it all out to my mom one night. “I just don’t feel happy anymore,” I sobbed. “I don’t understand why God hasn’t given me any good, godly friends, while my sisters have so many. Is my life always going to be like this?”

My mom got very emotional for a while. I knew that she wanted only the best for me and was struggling, like me, to understand the why behind it all. But finally she just clenched my hand and told me what I needed to hear. “I don’t know. We may never know. But I do know that God wants you to be happy, whether you have twenty friends or none at all. But He wants you to be happy in Him. What you had with your friend was special, but nothing compares to the relationship you have with God. Or with your family. God may have kept you from having a lot of female friends, but you know what? I think He is preparing you for something much, much bigger.”

I thought about my mom’s words a lot over the next few years. I started praying for God to make His will known to me in His time, not mine. I learned to appreciate my family more, especially my two sisters. They are my best friends now, and I know that nothing could happen between us that would cause us to stop talking to each other.

In time, as I grew to depend less on people to make me happy, and started finding contentment in the love and companionship of the Lord, He started bringing people into my life! I met many godly young women, and still continue to do from time to time. But I’ve learned to appreciate them as simply encouragements in my life, not fuel for it.

I guess what I’m trying to say by telling you my story is this: My life will never be like Anne Shirley’s. No, really, that’s what it all comes down to! Because the truth is, we all have fantasies. We dream about having the most amazing, incredibly handsome husbands that will always make us feel loved and desired. Or the kind of girlfriends who will always be there for you, even if it means holding your hair when you’re throwing up. (Because, honestly, that truly is the greatest love) Or a family that is so perfect, all you ever want to do is be near them. And when these things fall through, we become bitter and disappointed. God didn’t supply our desires. The world didn’t meet our expectations.

That is a bad way to view life. It’s not about getting what you want out of every situation. It’s about accepting God’s plans for you with an open and happy heart, and trying to see the light in the shadows of darkness. I may never have a bosom buddy like that again. But you know what? I am 100% okay with that. Because God has given me two wonderful sisters, and a Savior who loves me like no one else. And I may never get married, or have children, or fulfill any of my personal aspirations in life. But I have no right to ever be angry at God because of that. When I think of all that He has given me, I fall to my knees in worshipful gratitude at His goodness in my life.

It’s good to dream. It’s okay to have hopes and desires and goals. But a life isn’t built on hopes for the future. It’s firm foundation rests on remembering what God has done for you in the past, and trusting that He will always be there for you right when you need Him—in the present. He has plans for us greater than we may have ever had for ourselves, and He will see that they are fulfilled in His time and by His goodness.


  1. So true. 4-5 years ago we moved back to Williamsburg from Germany and I didn't have any friends my age. I wanted some friends sooooooooo bad but week after week and month after month God still hadn't given me a friend. I was involved in dance a volunteering at Colonial Williamsburg but I still didn't have a close friend my age. Frequently, I cried or told my mom about my "friendless state." Mom listened and often told me, "Samantha, maybe God wants you to be best friends with Him first." I fought that idea for quite some time but when I finally relented it was true. Looking back, shortly after I had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ He did give me a friend my own age. She has since moved to Texas but God has continued to give me friends--my sisters. I NEVER dreamed or wanted my sisters to be my best friends, but I can also say, without a doubt, that my sisters are my best friends I I wouldn't have it any other way!

  2. Wow, in many ways this story is a lot like mine. We used to go to a church where I had several "friends." When we left that church under rough circumstances and started having fellowship with another family I found myself the only "older girl." It was pretty depressing until I realized that, by not being so dependent on outsiders for friendship, I had grown much closer to my brother and sister. I'd also grown closer to a very dear friend I've had for ten years. I know they will stick to me through thick and thin, while those other "friends" no longer communicate with me.

    It's pretty neat to look back and see how the Lord wanted me to cultivate those relationships instead of having tons of friends (who were really nothing more than acquaintances when I think about it.) This was a very good and encouraging post--thank you for writing it, Rachel!

  3. You have such an entertaining, wonderful writing style and story! I am a huge fan of Anne Shirley, and when I first read it when I was ten all I wanted was red hair and big grey-blue eyes :) (I'm still hoping maybe one day God will bring me a handsome Gilbert Blythe :)) I can also completely relate to feeling alone, having been in a very similar situation before and have learned/am learning to lean on Him and delight in Him. There truly is no greater joy than to be in close communion with Him.... this really touched me, thanks for sharing your story! It was just what i needed to hear